Actor Russell Harvard - recognized for his work in Deaf West's recent Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, the FX series "Fargo" and the off-Broadway hit Tribes - returns to Washington, DC where he attended Gallaudet University to take on the role of Tommy in Open Circle Theatre's production of The Who's Tommy - playing through November 20. catch up with him in this week’s Take Ten interview.
1) What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?
The first show I recall seeing was a production of Wizard of Oz, in which my cousin, Mindy was the Wicked Witch. The impact it had on me, simply put, is that I am here, a professional actor.
2) What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?
My first theatrical production, was in 6th grade, the production was The Monster Tree.
3) What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?
My favorite musical is Spring Awakening, because when I saw the Deaf West revival in Los Angeles, I cried so much because I was so moved by it. I then got to perform in the cast when it moved to Broadway.
4) What’s the worst day job you ever took?
I once took a job as a janitor for Hyatt hotel, and by the end of the first week, I quit.
5) What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
I don’t really get easily embarrassed, because I don’t consider myself prude.
6) What are you enjoying most about working on THE WHO'S TOMMY at Open Circle Theatre?
Apart from shining onstage…I enjoy working with the entire cast and production team. The whole rehearsal process was more about inclusion and not the execution of the show. I then realized that we had to work together as a team to discover what was not working and what was. The spectacular, spectacular cast represents a wide spectrum of humanity incorporating our true talents. We’re all for one and one for all.
7) Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?
I would like to revise the question to plural dates, and in this case, my dream dates would be Vin Diesel and Miley Cyrus because Miley is…talented, and Vin is…hot!
8) What is your dream role/job?
I would love to be a villain in a superhero film, particularly Count Vertigo or Man-Bat. I scavenged online and discovered one hearing actor, who happens to be my friend who played a super-villain that was born deaf. This appalls me because it is an appropriation of what is truthful to the character. I urge hearing actors to cast aside their pride and ego and allow deaf actors to fit the role authentically. It’s a no brainer and it seems perfectly authentic. Don’t we strive for authenticity when it comes to acting as well as casting.
9) If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?
I would choose to see the original Broadway production of The Who’s Tommy starring my friend Michael Cerveris.
10) What advice would you give to an 8-year-old smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?
My advice to both is really simple. It’s to do what your heart tells you to. Pay no attention to anyone who doubts your potentials. If you are ready to delve into the entertainment industry…just remember to bulletproof yourselves and always be prepared for anything. Especially when you find yourself in a catch-22 situation.
RUSSELL HARVARD has been recognized for the following productions: Deaf West Theatre: Broadway revival of Spring Awakening; Huntington Theatre: Boston premiere of I Was Most Alive With You (Knox), Barrow Street Theatre: New York premiere of Tribes (Billy) - for which he received a 2012 Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance and nominations for Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor. He is well known for appearing in the award-winning film There Will Be Blood as Adult HW. Russell played the villain Mr. Wrench in the critically acclaimed Fargo series on FX Network. He also portrayed Matt Hamill, a UFC fighter, in The Hammer, based on a true story.